Are you interested in utilizing the power of remote teams to boost your business?
When organized in the right way, remote teams can play a powerful role in business success. People around the world can contribute to a business project. A remote team often has a better work/life balance in comparison with a conventional, face to face team, leading to more committed employees.
However, many companies naturally have concerns about the security implications of a remote team. When people are spread out around the world, there’s less direct control over security as opposed to a traditional office environment.
Thankfully, there are a series of proven practices organizations can use to help remote teams communicate and work as securely as possible.
Consider Security From The Start Of Your Remote Work Project
Remote team security isn’t something which can be treated as an afterthought - it’s something that needs to be considered from the earliest stages of any given project.
Why is it so important to make security an important part of the initial planning process?
Simply put, security needs to be thought about at every step of the way. It impacts everything from setting objectives, formulating policy, and even the type of questions asked when hiring remote team members.
So what are some of the ways that organizations can make security a crucial part of a project’s earliest phases?
Past Experience. Before embarking on a new remote team project, organizations need to look at their past work. What are the lessons from past remote projects that can be applied to the current objectives?
Industry Best Practice. As well as considering the internal organizational knowledge gained from past projects, it’s important to look outside the boundaries of the organization. What are some current industry-wide best practices that can be put into place?
After taking the earliest opportunity to think about security, how can organizations apply this information in a way that can be used by real remote teams?
Create Policies and Standard Operating Procedures
Of course, simply considering security before a project begins isn’t enough. It’s easy for even the best ideas and practices to get lost if they aren’t formalized in some way.
To ensure that your company's security ideas don't get neglected along the way, it's worth creating policies and standard operating procedures to ensure that your future remote team can put your ideas into practice.
The exact type of policy or SOP document created will differ from industry to industry. Even within a particular organization, security procedures will probably need to be adjusted and adapted for different team roles.
What are some effective ideas for formalizing security knowledge into a policy?
Length. The entire purpose of a standard operating procedure or other security policy document is to make sure remote teams can put policy into practice. Therefore, it's vital to consider that documents strike a balance between brevity and comprehensiveness. Remote team members should have all the information they need to work securely, without being overwhelmed by extensively lengthy documents.
Feedback. One of the main mistakes companies make when creating policy and procedure documents is failing to consider how they will come across in the real world. When creating your remote team security documents, seek feedback along the way. Making adjustments at the draft stage is a lot easier than making them further down the line.
Suitability. Make sure that the security policies in place will be suitable for the people using them. This can take the form of ensuring any policies are easily accessible, in the correct languages for team members, and presented in the right format. For example, short videos might be more useful than written documents, depending on the needs of your particular team.
Taking the time to formalize these ideas into a policy document will make security clear and easy to adhere to.
Choose The Correct Team Communication Software Tools
One of the major mistakes organizations make regarding remote team security is failing to ensure that their tools and practices are aligned.
Too often, teams end up using fairly standardized, default tools, that might not meet their security needs in full.
Often, after adopting a particular tool, it’s either too expensive or inconvenient for an organization to switch to another one. Take the time to compare different options. Because of this, it’s essential to get the decision right the first time.
So how can organizations select the most appropriate tools to support remote team security?
Features. It's essential to have a full list of security features your tools will need to have ahead of time. Otherwise, it's easy to get excited about a tool based on its overall appeal, without properly considering it from a security standpoint. You might find it useful to list all your essential and desirable security features, to have a clear way to evaluate potential tools.
Cost. There are several important factors related to cost of choosing secure tools for your remote team. Depending on a particular tool, there might be price tiers for user numbers, or extra costs to access extra storage, for example. The tool with the lowest price shouldn’t be your default choice. It’s worth spending more to get better security, as the cost of a breach can far outweigh the cost of a tool.
Future. When choosing a set of tools for your remote team to use, it’s important to look ahead. It can be easy to think in a way which is too short-term, which ends up hurting your security. You want to consider whether a tool has planned support for the future, whether the company making it is likely to survive, and whether the tool will remain compatible with your organization’s intended hardware.
Matching the right tools with your policies and procedures is essential. Otherwise, the best security theory will never become effective practice.
Configure Your Collaboration Tools
Choosing the right remote work tools for your team isn’t enough.
If you’ve chosen well, your remote collaboration tools will have a large amount of customizability and adaptability.
Don’t make the mistake of just using the tools with their default settings. Instead, take the time to ensure they work in the way that best meets the needs of your team and organization.
Access Levels. Take the time to determine and put in place proper access levels for your remote team. In most situations, different team members will need different levels of access to aspects such as communication channels, storage drives, email address access, and so on. Putting proper access levels in place not only helps organizational security, but helps team members perform effectively by preventing overwhelm.
Multi-Factor. Consider configuring your tools to make use of multi-factor authentication. While this is good practice in a lot of cases, it might not always be right for your team. Evaluate the benefits of single factor VS multi-factor authentication for the context of your remote team.
Password Policy. Depending on the particular tools you choose, you might want to put a password policy in place. Of course, many tools require a certain strength of a password by default. Also, if you’re using an access method such as fingerprints or other biometrics, these might be enough on their own.
Just as it’s important to choose a set of tools which match the security needs of your organization, it’s essential to configure them to operate in the way you wish. Doing so will ensure both security and workflow are as smooth as possible.
Monitor and Improve
The final step in making sure your remote team communicates as securely as possible is never thinking your security concerns are complete.
There are always improvements to make, new lessons to learn, and best practices to implement.
So how can you ensure that your organization makes use of a growth and improvement mindset when it comes to remote team security?
Team Feedback. Take the time to regularly gather your team’s thoughts and opinions on the tools they are using and the security situation associated with them. Implementing this real-world feedback ensures that you adjust to the reality on the ground.
Learn From Mistakes. Even with the best tools, policies, and procedures in place, mistakes will inevitably occur. The important thing is to use a mistake as an opportunity for improvement.
Tool Updates. The world of tech and software never stands still. The tools used by your remote team will likely change and evolve. Ensure that they remain compatible with your organizational aims, and evaluate new alternatives as they enter the market.
Industry Best Practice. Security always develops and changes. Keep an eye on industry journals and thought-leaders to ensure that your organization's security policy and practice remain in harmony with industry best practice as a whole.
Failing to adapt as security evolves is one of the quickest ways to ensure your organization becomes vulnerable to new threats.
Keep an eye on changes and implement them to ensure your remote team remains as secure as possible.
Security Shouldn’t Stop You Benefiting From Remote Teams
While remote work may pose some security challenges, so does old-school, face to face work teams.
No way of working will ever be without its security issues. But that doesn’t make them insurmountable.
By taking a proactive, best practice approach to remote team security, you can ensure your communication remains as safe as possible.